Most employees are familiar with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency empowered to enforce federal workplace antidiscrimination laws. However, what many employees may not be familiar with is the EEOC’s mediation program, which can make getting justice take much less time.
As a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, mediation is designed to achieve a solution that is agreeable to all parties. The process empowers the parties to find a solution through the use of an independent and neutral third-party, whose job is to find a resolution. These mediators are trained by the EEOC, but they do not participate in any investigations or make findings, nor do they have any authority to impose a settlement. Their entire job is to find a solution by reconciling differences.
When does mediation occur?
Generally, mediation is initiated prior to the investigation, and the EEOC asks the parties whether they would like to utilize the process. The reason that it is recommended to begin the process at the beginning is because after an investigation is completed, both parties usually have entrenched positions that make mediation much harder. However, mediation can be requested at any point, even after a finding has been made. Though, both parties must agree to mediate. If one party disagrees, the EEOC will handle the complaint as normal.
A confidential process
EEOC mediation is a 100% confidential process. This is a prerequisite to utilizing the process, and all parties, including the mediator, must sign confidentiality agreements prior to the initiation of mediation. Each session is done off-the-record and is not recorded. Even notes taken by the mediator are destroyed. It is an entirely separate process from the EEOC’s investigation and litigation processes, and nothing from the mediation can be used in either. Indeed, mediators are also prohibited from performing any other functions in the case, other than mediation.
For our Sherwood, Oregon, readers, they may be wondering why they should utilize the mediation process. Of course, they should not enter the process until they have spoken with their attorney about the process. Mediation can get justice quickly, but it is not appropriate in all cases, which is why attorney consultation is needed prior to entering the process.